Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Another Day at the Office: Steelers Win


Prior to this game, a lot of the talk was about how the Browns had built their defense on the Steelers model, even hiring Ray Horton to essentially run Dick LeBeau's defense.

The Browns won the toss but were more interested in the wind than the ball so the Steelers got it first. Ben got things rolling right off the bat with a quick-hitter to Sanders that shockingly picked up some yards. The running game didn't do anything spectacular, but it was effective all day. Heath got in on the action with a big catch over the middle to move us into the edge of field goal range. Bell would chip away a few more yards, but Haley makes a bizarre play call on 3rd and 7 and calls a run, which goes nowhere.

Suisham from 47 into the wind.


The Browns came out throwing, because their key to success was obviously to put the ball in Jason Campbell's hands. He was able to convert one third down on a shallow cross to Josh Gordon (get used to that name) that went for 25 yards but that was pretty much all the Browns did. Former Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff made some field goal with the wind at his back.


Will Johnson got his requisite catch and it was back to the No Huddle, which stalled out when Ben threw a WR screen to Le'Veon Bell on 3rd and 8. Bell made some moves and almost picked up the first down, but for those keeping score at home that's a run on 3rd and 7 and a WR screen on 3rd and 8. Neither is a high-percentage conversion play-call.

The Browns started mixing in the run and moved the ball a little bit, edging into Steelers territory as the first quarter ended. Steve McLendon was hurt on the last play of the first. Enter Al Woods

Second Quarter

The Browns have a running back named Fozzy Whittaker. Not sure whether to make a Fozzy joke or a Whittaker joke.
Fozzy it is.

Cam Heyward made a play on third down and ate Jason Campbell for lunch. Big sack on the edge of field goal range.

Pinned back against their goal line, the Steelers went to the motif offense and dodged a big bullet when a pass that was going to be picked off was batted down at the line.

Cleveland got it back near midfield but went backwards thanks to a false start from Alex Mack.
Not that one, I don't think.

The Steelers finally decide to get the ball in the hands of Antonio Brown, and he does some serious work on Cleveland's defense. Almost single-handedly Brown moves us out of the shadow of our own goal posts, mixing in crossing routes, sideline routes and slant routes. The Steelers try something else when they get across midfield and it doesn't work. Brown had 4 catches for 42 yards on that drive alone.

Fozzy Whittaker makes another appearance. In the box score he just shows up as F. Whittaker, but he shouldn't be confused with Forest Whitaker who won an Oscar for playing Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

Jason Campbell gets injured on a relatively routine pressure by Worlids, maybe he just fell weird when Worlids tripped him up. Weeden comes in. All the LOLs.

The Steelers waste no time in striking back. Ben goes to Sanders to move us into Browns territory then goes up top to Antonio Brown streaking past Joe Haden.

All Antonio Brown Does Is Make Big Plays.


Antonio Brown has more Touchdowns against Haden than Calvin Johnson, AJ Green and Torrey Smith, combined.

Jason Campbell comes back in and hits Josh Gordon a few times to get things moving in the two minute drill, but the Browns try a bizarre run near midfield that Troy absolutely blows up. What a play. Troy came on an A-gap blitz, bounced back off the center, got into position in the middle of the field and attacked the runner, stripping the ball and recovering the fumble.

I've been pimping Troy for the Pro Bowl a lot on Facebook and Twitter, because I'm in a contest and can win stuff if people RT (on Twitter) or Like and Comment (on Facebook), but seriously, that's the kind of play that Pro Bowlers make.

The Steelers take over at midfield with 1:43 left on the clock. Somehow, even with the no huddle, it takes them 45 seconds to run two plays. Their "hurry-up" offense is just maddeningly slow, and it puts them in situations where they have to use an unnecessary timeout.
Which is exactly what happened here. The Steelers had to burn their second timeout after a completion to Heath got them inside the 30. After another completion to Heath, Ben spikes the ball to kill the clock with 20 seconds left. For the record, it took 17 seconds to get off one play and a spike. Two incompletions later it's fourth down and the kick team is out.


We got points, but really poor clock management by the offense makes this one feel like a missed opportunity.


My Alma Mater, North Catholic High School, won their first ever WPIAL football championship on Saturday.

They rang the bell.

Third Quarter

Brad Whitaker was the name of one of the villains in The Living Daylights. Yes, that was a Bond movie. 
Timothy Dalton was in it. It wasn't the best Bond movie, but it would be better than watching the Browns offense. The Living Daylights was really only memorable for this scene where Bond led a snow chase with a cello case.

That tangent took longer than the Browns drive. Ben almost throws a pick to Haden on the first play, but AB breaks it up. The Prescripton gets things moving then a few passes get us across midfield. Bell comes up just short of the sticks on a second down in Browns territory and Dwyer can't convert on two opportunities, so the Browns take over.

The Browns move it back into Steelers territory but LeBeau dials up a blitz from the corner and William Gay knocks the ball out of Campbell's hands. Will Allen scoops it up and takes off down the sideline. I speak to soon and mention that the Steelers are one of two teams without a defensive touchdown this season, so of course he gets tackled at the four.

The Steelers waste no time after their missed opportunity in the red zone at the end of the first half. Sanders and Brown run a double cross with Brown cutting outside and Sanders cutting in. Ben hits Manny in the end zone for the score.


Jason Campbell got injured again, somehow, so Brandon Weeden gets to come back in. 

The defense seemed to have forced a 3-and-out but the Browns keep their offense on the field and Weeden sneaks for the first down. Weeden completes a few passes to move the Browns into field goal range, but Cundiff misses badly with a hard pull to the left.

Cundiff gonna Cundiff

The teams exchange punts to close out the quarter. Not much happening with the Steelers up by 3 scores.

Fourth Quarter

The Steelers got the ball determined to get out of Dodge as quickly as possible. Because it was cold n'at. The Prescription just took the game over. He didn't to anything fancy or flashy, but solidly consistent running ate up a bunch of clock. Bell ran 8 times for 25 yards with a pass to Sanders mixed in there and the Steelers found themselves on the edge of the red zone. Haley tried to get cute with an end-around to Brown that went for a big loss. With the ball on the 29, Tomlin elects to send the offense out for a 4th and 18 rather than try a field goal into the wind. Ben left-foot pooches a punt that Sanders gobbles up at the 1.

Sanders celebrating a downed punt more than his touchdown. Ben with the coffin corner kick. Man.

That great punt gets pretty much nullified when Weeden hits Gordon down the sidelines and he takes it all the way out to midfield. But three plays later, Troy gets in on the act and strip-sacks Weeden. Cam Heyward picks it up and bowls a few guys over before getting knocked out of bounds.

Sometimes, Cleveland is still Cleveland.

The Steelers go 3-and-out on three runs that are pretty much just designed to chew up clock. McBriar punts it into the end zone. Put Ben back in?

Brandon Weeden's Gaydar must be broken, because on the first play from scrimmage William Gay jumps a short crossing route and takes it back to the house.

First defensive touchdown of the season

Gay Island all day.


Exclusive reaction of Weeden when being told he had to go back in the game and throw the ball some more:

Weeden had pretty much had enough with throwing to other guys so he decided he was just going to throw to Josh Gordon exclusively. The Steelers were sitting back in soft coverage which let Gordon pretty much run free. Three catches later, Gordon had gobbled up 77 yards of real estate. Two plays later Weeden finds Gordon in the end zone. The Browns go for two.

There's a poop joke in there somewhere.


The Browns try an onside kick that goes straight to Dwyer. Tomlin apparently likes seeing the ball in Dwyer's hands, because he lets him carry it 3 times to make the Browns burn their timeouts.

Cleveland gets the ball back with just over 2 minutes to go. Their drive summary is hilarious. It's basically two incomplete passes to Fozzy Whittaker, a 3rd down pass to Gordon, wash, rinse, repeat. Al Woods had two sacks along the way. 

The Steelers got it back after the Browns crapped their pants on fourth down and threw a check-down pass. 

Victory Formation.


Tied for the last Wild Card spot. Everything we needed to happen this week did.

Baltimore in like 2 days. With a playoff spot essentially on the line. On Thanksgiving Night.

Final Thoughts

  • Brandon Weeden wanted nothing to do with the Steelers defense. We got an exclusive interview with him after the game:

  • 4 turnovers, 5 sacks. The defense is getting its swag back

  • Three in a row for the Steelers. Whatever you've been doing, keep doing it.

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